To the Editor:

In Tuesday’s article on the issues concerning the representation of women in the School of Architecture, Jerry Guo is surprised that despite a 36-percent increase in female applicants, the number of admitted applicants dropped from 27 to 19 percent (“Women in Arch. voice complaints,” 2/28). Similarly, he commented that despite a 10-percent decrease in male applicants, the percent admitted jumped from 25 to 30 percent.

What Guo doesn’t realize is that this is exactly what one should expect, assuming the demographic of admitted students remains constant. For example, if there are 20 spots available in a class and 100 people apply this year, 20 percent will be admitted. If 200 people apply next year, then only 10 percent will be admitted, assuming no change in the class size. This is exactly what is going on here. The number of male applicants decreased, so the fraction of them that were admitted increased. The inverse applies to the female applicant pool.

In fact, if you do the math, the 19 percent of females that were admitted this year (from an application pool 36 percent larger than last year) corresponds to 26 percent of the current class. This shows that the class demographic has essentially remained constant (a one-percent fluctuation between two data points is insignificant). As for the men, an acceptance of 30 percent from a pool that is 90 percent of last year’s pool corresponds to 27 percent of the current class. A change of two percent is nothing to write home about.

George Burkhard ’05

March 1, 2006